10. Kevin Butler vs. Southern Miss, 1984
Butler’s four field goals were important because they helped Georgia to a 26-19 win, but they also solidified his legacy as one of the great kickers in SEC history. Butler hit from 23, 43, 42 and 46 yards to break Rex Robinson’s SEC career records for made field goals and points scored by a kicker. Butler and USM’s Rex Banks combined to kick a record eight field goals that day.
9. David Greene vs. Arkansas State, 2001
Mark Richt’s first game in Athens was a sterling debut thanks in part to his new quarterback. Making his first appearance as a Bulldog, the redshirt freshman completed 21 of 29 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, and Georgia won 45-17. There were many bigger wins over the next four years as Greene became the nation’s winningest college quarterback – but the first one was a sign of great things to come.
8. Bill Goldberg vs. Baylor, 1989
Long before he was a superstar professional wrestler, Bill Goldberg was a standout defensive tackle at Georgia. Although Baylor actually outgained Georgia 314-263 in Ray Goff’s debut as the Bulldogs’ head coach, Goldberg led a big-play defensive effort that produced a 15-3 victory. Goldberg recorded 16 tackles, an 11-yard sack and a tackle for a loss, and his teammates added two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
7. Georgia defense vs. Clemson, 2003
Georgia came from behind and barely held off Clemson to win the 2002 opener in Athens, but the return game the following year in South Carolina brought no such drama. The Bulldogs simply throttled the Tigers in Death Valley, recording a 30-0 win that was Georgia’s first season-opening road shutout since 1954. Tommy Bowden’s Clemson squad was outgained 411-199 in the humiliating loss.
6. Lars Tate vs. Virginia, 1987
Things weren’t looking good for the Bulldogs as the Cavaliers jumped out to a two-touchdown lead. Georgia came back, however, riding future NFL tailback Tate to a 30-22 win. Tate became the first Georgia back since Walker to eclipse the 200-yard mark in a game, rushing 28 times for 218 yards. He scored touchdowns of 28 and 44 yards in the come-from-behind win.
5. Terrence Edwards vs. Utah State, 1999
Yes, the competition wasn’t exactly impressive, but Terrence Edwards made quite a splash in his first game in Athens. The freshman almost broke the school record for receiving yards in a game, hauling in 10 Quincy Carter passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns – for 53 and 47 yards – in Georgia’s 38-7 win. Edwards’ total fell 2 yards shy of Lamar “Race Horse” Davis’ 198 yards against Cincinnati in 1942.
4. Eric Zeier vs. South Carolina, 1994
One of the top passers in Georgia history, Zeier put on a show in the 1994 opener against South Carolina. The senior quarterback threw a whopping 51 times, completing 31, for 485 yards and three touchdowns. As good as Zeier was, however, it took Corey Johnson’s interception of Steve Taneyhill at Georgia’s 7 to preserve the Bulldogs’ 24-21 win.
3. Robert Edwards vs. South Carolina, 1995
Edwards’ record five touchdowns sparked a second-half offensive explosion and led the Bulldogs from a 14-7 halftime deficit to a 42-23 win over the Gamecocks. The junior running back rushed 30 times for 169 yards and scored all five touchdowns after halftime. He scored four times on the ground, on carries of 13, 1, 5 and 58 yards and also caught a 45-yard scoring pass from quarterback Mike Bobo.
2. D.J. Shockley vs. Boise State, 2005
There were questions all offseason about whether Shockley had what it took to be “The Man” after David Greene’s departure, but he quickly put those concerns to rest in a 48-13 win over Boise. He and the Bulldogs completely overmatched Boise, storming to a 38-0 lead. Shockley was the catalyst, completing 16 or 24 passes for 289 yards and five touchdowns, and rushing for 85 yards and a 14-yard score.
1. Herschel Walker vs. Tennessee, 1980
It’s not that Walker’s 24 carries for 84 yards in his college debut were especially eye-opening statistics – in fact, he ran for fewer yards in only three games in the 1980 dream season – but what he did against the Volunteers signaled his arrival as a dominant Southeastern Conference back. With Georgia trailing 15-2 in the third quarter, Walker gave the Bulldogs an emotional spark when he bowled over Tennessee’s Bill Bates on a 16-yard touchdown run. Herschel added the 9-yard go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, leading Georgia to a 16-15 win – the crucial first step toward that season’s national championship.
Honorable mention: Rodney Hampton vs. Tennessee 1988, John Brantley vs. Duke 1986, Mikey Henderson vs. Western Kentucky 2006, Herschel Walker vs. Tennessee 1981, Quincy Carter vs. Utah State 1999, Danny Ware vs. Georgia Southern 2004